Program 1: Introduction to Creating Accessible Documents


Jim: Hello, and welcome to the universal access project and video series on creating accessible electronic documents.

My name is Jim Stachowiak. I’m the associate director of ICATER, and the project director for the universal access project here at the University of Iowa.

And in this series, I’ll be your guide as we look at the importance of, and how to create accessible electronic materials.

One of the biggest issues that students with disabilities deal with in a post-secondary setting is working with inaccessible text posted on a class website.

Most college classes have a course website where instructors post important class materials, such as the syllabus, supplemental readings, or even assignments for everybody in the class to be easily able to access.

Now although this electronic text is inherently more accessible than physical printed text, there still can be issues for students with disabilities, such as low vision, blindness, or learning disabilities.

The most common issues we see are three things. One, where the PDF is scanned in and the words are a little bit blurry. If that’s the case, a text reader might have a hard time reading that back to student with disabilities.

Two, is a PDF scanned in and recognized as an image. If it’s recognized as an image, that text reader won’t read any words back to the student.

Third, it might be a clean scan, but it might have several pictures or graphics without alternative text descriptions to them, and without text descriptions, a low vision user or a blind user will not have any idea what those graphics represent.

Now several of these issues are simple to deal with on the front end.

However, instructors often are not familiar with how to do this and they may not feel comfortable doing it either.

And when asked to do so, instructors often think the process is much harder than it really is.

In this video series, we’re going to walk through a series of steps on how to create several types of accessible documents.

These documents will include scanned PDFs, accessible interactive PDFS, accessible word documents, and accessible powerpoint slides.

The easily repeatable steps we’ll provide you with will make a big difference for students with disabilities if you follow them while creating your electronic text to post to your website.

Not only are we going to walk through these steps, we’re going to also look at the importance of accessible documents by talking to people who deal with them every day.

We’re going to talk to somebody from student disability service, we’ll talk to a student who has a disability, and we’ll also talk to a professor who has been charged with creating accessible documents.

By the end of the series, you should have a pretty good idea of what makes an accessible document, how to create that accessible document, and you should also be very comfortable with walking through the process.

Now without further ado, let’s jump right in and head to the next video where we look at the importance of creating accessible documents.

Creating Accessible Documents